KATHMANDU, April 16: The Amnesty International has said the authorities in Qatar rounded up and expelled dozens of Nepali migrant workers after telling them they were being taken to be tested for COVID-19.
Issuing a press statement, Amnesty International said its officials interviewed 20 men from Nepal who were apprehended by police in Qatar.
“The police told most of the men that they were going to be tested for COVID-19 and would be returned to their accommodation afterwards. Instead, they were taken to detention centers and held in appalling conditions for several days, before being sent to Nepal,” according to Amnesty International.
The rights body organization has termed the migrants’ spending days in detention as ‘inhumane conditions’, adding that many were not even given the chance to collect their belongings before they were put on planes to Nepal.
“It is disturbing that the Qatari authorities appear to have used the pandemic as a smokescreen for further abuses against migrant workers, many of whom feel police misled them by saying that they were to be ‘tested’. COVID-19 is no excuse for arbitrarily rounding people up,” read the statement.
According to Amnesty International, all of the workers left Qatar without receiving their owed salary and end-of-service benefits.
However, Amnesty International said that the officials of the government of Qatar said that while inspecting the industrial areas as part of the COVID-19 response, they uncovered individuals engaged in illegal and illicit activity.
Furthermore, the organization has called on the Qatari authorities to ensure that any worker detained and threatened with expulsion is informed of the reasons and allowed to challenge them. Qatar should also ensure effective remedy and reparation for any worker whose rights have been violated, it said.